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Thu 28 Aug 2008 08:11 AM

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Emaar bounces back after 40-month low

Property giant's shares increase by five percent in a day as investors eye bargains.

Emaar Properties rallied more than five percent from a 40-month trough in Dubai on Wednesday, snapping five days of losses as Gulf investors eyed bargains after a sell-off triggered by foreigners.

Oman's measure approached bear territory, leading five Gulf markets lower, as local retail investors cashed out of blue chips on fears foreign institutions could continue to sell.

Dubai's index, which hit a more than 10-month closing low on Tuesday, has been battered by a series of investigations into alleged financial irregularities by former executives at firms including Tamweel and Deyaar.

The selling has dragged down valuations. Emaar is trading at less than 8 times expected 2008 earnings, below the real estate sector average, after falling more than 13 percent this month, according to Reuters data.

"Regional and local investors are coming back to town and everything is cheap," says Alfred Fayek, director of the EFG-Hermes Gulf institutional desk. "The fundamentals are good so we are seeing buying."

But negative sentiment continued to cloud other Gulf markets, especially Muscat, where the index has fallen about 18 percent since it hit a record 12,164 points on June 15.

"Retailers are a little bit panicked because of what is happening in other Gulf markets and because they fear foreign institutional selling will accelerate," said Adel Nasr, brokerage manager at United Securities in Muscat.

Bourses in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi also closed lower, while Qatar's measure ended higher for the first time this week.

The Doha index has fallen almost 17 percent since touching a 28-month high on June 11.

"The dollar's appreciation on global markets triggered a lot of selling orders in Gulf markets because foreigners are moving to dollar assets," says Mohamed Abu Ghosh, an analyst at Ahli Bank.

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